On February 19, 2016, PCSO detectives obtained Polk County arrest warrants for and arrested 32-year-old Matthew Beard, of 1653 Village Center Drive #204, Lakeland, and his mother, 59-year-old Martha Beard of 5142 Cimarron Drive, in unincorporated Lakeland, for one count each Grand Theft (F-1) and Fraud (F-1), after an investigation revealed they stole over $122,000 from the Cimarron Homeowners Association (HOA).
According to their affidavits, in 2003, Martha was appointed Treasurer of the Cimarron HOA. As Treasurer, Martha had sole custody of the debit card and checks for the bank account, and was responsible for making payments to various businesses on behalf of the neighborhood organization, such as lawn care, electric bill, taxes, insurance, supplies, etc. In 2015 she was dismissed as Treasurer, after the other board members discovered a $27,000 deficit to the HOA lawn care provider, and responded to TD Bank and found there was less than $50.00 in the Cimarron HOA account.
The deficit was previously undiscovered because Martha had falsified documents showing payments to various businesses. The board members were alerted to the deficit by the lawn care provider. They immediately contacted PCSO, and Fraud detectives began an investigation.
PCSO collected evidence that showed Martha and her adult son, Matthew, used the HOA-issued TD Bank debit card to make multiple purchases, for items such as food, clothing, mattresses, vehicle rentals, etc. Additionally, Matthew is listed as owner of a business called "Ultra Production Group," and in 2015 he used the HOA debit card to purchase equipment, vehicles, and signage after he was hired by Lakeland Regional Medical Center to work their "Promise Run" charity event. In all, Matthew spent over $6,000 of HOA funds to work the charity event. He also booked a cruise with the card.
Detectives retrieved surveillance videos from one of the stores where receipts showed the debit card was recently used, along with images from the TD Bank ATM - the videos and images show Martha and Matthew making these transactions.
Post-Miranda, both Beards confessed to using the HOA funds without permission. Martha told detectives that for 11 years she attempted to put money back into the account. Detectives found evidence that she made four separate deposits into the account, totaling $12,622.00.
In all, detectives calculated the total amount of funds stolen by both Beards from 2004 until 2015 equals $122,779.47.
Both Beards were booked into the Polk County Jail on the aforementioned charges, where they remain on $30,000 bond ($15,000 bond for each charge).